Toddler Is Hitting, Any Advice on Changing the Behavior?

Updated on September 10, 2008
K.S. asks from Springfield, VA
5 answers

I have a 15 month old son who hits when get frustrated or is told no. Any advice on dealing with this behavior and how to change it?

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K.L.

answers from Washington DC on

My daughter (now almost 5) did this too, between the ages of 15-19 months. I was just very consistent about telling her that we don't hit. Keep saying it until you're blue in the face. Eventually it'll stop. Good luck :)

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M.F.

answers from Washington DC on

My youngest, 2 yrs, sometimes does that when he gets frustrated. The best thing, I think, when they're as young as your little guy, is to stop them _before_ they get a chance to hit someone. It means having to watch him like a hawk while he plays with others. And when you see him getting frustrated or winding up to throw a punch, you intervene, literally by holding his arm. And, of course, you can help him get through his frustration and tell him hitting is not acceptable. Good luck!

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M.H.

answers from Washington DC on

Keep telling him no, consistently, and try to incorporate a positive reaction to your telling him no. LIke explaining it is okay to be upset but that hitting is not allowed out of anger or for any reason for that matter. I know it may seem like he isnt getting it, but, he will get it eventually. They understand more than we give them credit for sometimes. I don't think instructions really sunk in with our oldest (now 3) until he was 2 or 2 1/2. My second (16 months) is similar to yours but he throws things or throws himself on the floor in a crying fit. They are persistent little buggers sometimes but we have to be just as persistent and consistent with what we prefer for them to do/not to do. Everyone in the house also has to be consistent and not give in. That is the only issue we have because my husband is a softy and will just give in to their demands. Remember you cannot change the behaviour, you can only guide him into more constructive behaciour.

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A.B.

answers from Washington DC on

Ugh! This is frustrating, I know! My 2 year old has been doing that for a while now, but I am using consistent punishment (I usually count to 3 for less serious offenses, but hitting, kicking, biting & throwing food are automatic "3's") and she heads straight for time-out. I have been told/read it's a phase, so my advice is if you hang in there and be consistent with consequences (that even means in public) - and explain that hitting is not nice and it hurts others - s/he should grow out of it and learn the lesson. Good luck!

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J.B.

answers from Washington DC on

I have an 18 month old and he loves to hit. I tried saying, "No hits... HUGS!" So now he hits, then hugs! Yikes. I'm currently trying the "You'll have to go to bed if you do that again." I do this with screaming, hitting, throwing toys. He's not a monster, but he gets frustrated when he can't do what big brother (4) can do. I put him in his crib and shut the door... as I'm taking him upstairs, I say over and over, "No hitting." Then I shut the door and wait outside for just a minute or two. If he's screaming and crying, I open the door and say, "If you stop screaming, I'll come in." He understands. We also use sign language, so I tell him he has to be all done hitting if he wants to get out of bed. He has to use the all done sign, then I pick him up, give him a hug and tell him I love him, and let him get back to playing. I usually works for a while at least... he HATES being in his crib awake. When he does something unacceptable again, I just say, "Do you want to go to bed?" and he stops. The key is to be consistant. The minute I lapse (and I admit, I have) I have to start over again. Good luck.

Next question: Such Thing as Discipline for a 15 Month Old?